‘Mine 9’ filmmaker talks stereotypes, claustrophobia, and his upcoming thriller

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(WJHL) When you are digging coal deep under the earth’s surface, there are plenty of things that can go wrong. 

And in the upcoming film Mine 9, things do go wrong. Very wrong. 

Set in the hills and hollers of Appalachian coal country, the indy film follows nine miners who become trapped when all hell breaks loose underground. 

To make matters worse, they only have an hour of oxygen. 

The film’s producer, writer, and director Eddie Mensore is from Appalachia. 

Being from West Virginia, you know of coal mines and you know they work two miles in and some of the coal mines are only four feet tall, Mensore said. So to me, it was just a really, really good idea for a claustrophobic thriller.

Mensore says his film was inspired by several different mining disasters.

“It’s not based on any single coal mining accident,” the filmmaker told News Channel 11. And the reason is those are real coal miners, those are real families. So, I really did not want to make a story where real people are involved, to bring up something I really know nothing about.

Mine 9 was filmed in just 15 days according to Mensore. He says some of it was filmed inside the Calico Mine, a real working mine, in Buchanan County, Virginia, but much of the film was shot hundreds of miles away from coal country. 

“We just recreated the coal mine set in a warehouse in Atlanta and then dressed our actors up [like] coal miners,” Mensore said. “We didn’t actually film with real actors underground.”

Using some “movie magic” as he described it, the scenes showing actors underground were interwoven with scenes of real coal miners working in a real coal mine. 

Mensore says the coal mine set they built in Atlanta was just four feet tall on the inside.

“So, actors and crews all had to go work in a dark, hazy, smoky space where you’re crawling all day long,” he said. “Making a film is challenging, but making a film in a ‘Being John Malkovich’ environment is quite challenging.”  

Ironically, the filmmaker says he has a fear of confined spaces, which became a problem when he tried to go inside a mine.  

“I tried going under and I got about 40 yards in and I was like ‘no, I can’t do this,’” Mensore said. He says his attempt to go underground became a running joke during the production. 

As a native Appalachian, Mensore says he worked to avoid stereotypes in his latest film. 

I try to not stereotype…at all, the filmmaker said. That’s really it. Just show them the human beings that we are, from Appalachia. It’s very easy to stereotype people. Appalachians are always stereotyped.

He also says, as far as his film is concerned, he wasn’t interested in the politics and controversies that surround coal. 

The last thing we are trying to do is push an agenda. We’re just trying to make a cool claustrophobic thriller, but at the same time honor what these men and women provide for us. Take your agenda and politics out of it. These are humans and they are doing a service for all of us who are not coal miners. If we can honor them and tell a cool thriller, that’s it for me.

‘Mine 9’ will open on 25 screens in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee starting April 12 and ending April 18, including:

  • Bristol, Tenn. Pinnacle 12
  • Grundy, Va. Grundy Community Centre Cinema 3
  • Abingdon, Va.  Abingdon Cinemall
  • Norton, Va.  Cinema City Norton
  • Wythville, Va.  Wytheville 8
  • Pikeville, Ky. Riverfill 10
  • Hazard, Ky.  Hillside Theater

Click here to read more about the movie. 

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